Could a Robot Do Your Job?

In looking at the future of employment, I've done my best to sum up the benefits of telecommuting, the rise of health care as perhaps the dominant engine of the economy, the emergence of a freelance nation, and the employment crisis of rising medical costs. But I've neglected one important thing: robots.

Fortunately, Fabius Maximus at RBE does some heavy lifting on the subject and comes to some heavy conclusions. In short: automation is more dangerous than we think.

Our world automation increases productivity -- boosting business profits (now at record levels despite the recession) and reduces employment. Especially as the automation wave moves from manufacturing into the far larger pool of service employment.
  • Fire bank tellers; install ATMs.
  • Fire workers in toll booths and parking lots; install automated payment systems (e.g., FasTrak).
  • Fire cashiers; install automated check-out systems (e.g., gas stations and Home Depot).
  • Fire teachers for simple continuing education course; install online learning systems
It's happening now, as the recession has sparked businesses to rationalize their business practices to fully utilize new technology.

20100308-fedsf-productivity.jpg?w=428&h=340


Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In